It's the tweaking time of year here on the blog -- a kind of blog form of Spring cleaning -- so please bear with us as we move some elements around a bit, and test a couple of new things. Everything will settle down in a week or so. Really.

Is mac and cheese, or a grilled rib-eye steak, or a big bowl of chocolate ice cream, your ultimate comfort food? Mine is asparagus soup. Call me crazy, but I could eat asparagus soup -- the greener, the better -- every day during the brief six weeks we get farm-fresh asparagus at the open markets and farmsteads here in New England. A few years ago, I learned that you can freeze asparagus. I never knew that, but it has changed my asparagus buying routine. Now, I try to buy several pounds direct from the farm on the day the asparagus is picked, and freeze it immediately in a zip lock bag with most of the air removed. The texture of frozen fresh asparagus spears is... Read more →


From Kathie, in Rhode Island: My favorite quick and easy go to seasoning during grilling season. [Lydia's Notes] Yep, I have Montreal Steak Seasoning on my spice rack, too (I haven't tried the others in Kathie's pantry). In fact, this post reminded me that there's a grilled tofu recipe here on the blog that I've been meaning to update and share with you, so watch for that one soon. According to Wikipedia, Montreal steak spice had its beginnings in Schwartz's deli in Montreal, where a grill man added the spices used in Montreal smoked meat to flavor his meats on the grill. The mix usually contains garlic, coriander, pepper and cayenne pepper, dill, and salt. It imparts a distinctive flavor to any meat you toss... Read more →


When it comes to slow cooker cooking, I consider myself a newbie. While my college friends were experimenting with slow cookers in their dorm rooms, I lived on tuna sandwiches. In fact, I bought my first slow cooker less than five years ago. So I've spent more time reading recipes for slow cooker dishes than actually cooking them. Now that I'm more comfortable with my slow cooker (my favorite is the Ninja Cooking System, a six-quart easy-to-clean marvel that's a crock-pot and also can do "stovetop" cooking, which means I can brown meat right in the pot), I'm paying more attention to technique, and this recipe is all about technique. Rice requires special handling in a slow cooker. To start, you need special rice, i.e.,... Read more →


Got leftovers? A little bit of grilled salmon or chicken? Some cooked lentils, or beans or quinoa? Have I got a salad for you! This summery salad takes all comers. A cup of lentils, a cup of peppers, a cup of salmon: the secret to a balanced salad is to give each of the main components equal weight. Salmon keeps the salad light, but if fish isn't your thing, feel free to use grilled or broiled chicken (you'll need just one-quarter of a pound), or to leave out the meat or fish altogether. The salad will keep for two days in the refrigerator, and makes a colorful and easy contribution to a potluck or picnic. Lentil salad with bell peppers, salmon, and maple-mustard dressing {can... Read more →


From Julia, in Cambridge, MA: If you can believe it, Sweet Smoked Spanish Paprika is new to my pantry in the last 10 years. I had always thought of paprika as just a bland spice added primarily for color. A few years ago, while visiting a friend, he served fried okra with a smoked paprika mayo dip -- it was a revelation; especially since the dip consisted of only smoked paprika and mayo. Since then, I've used it in deviled eggs (total game changer) and also Yotam Ottolenghi's Chicken Sofrito (from the cookbook Jerusalem). I'm out of my favorite brand, but have 3 other kinds of smoked paprika in the pantry which I need to go through. [Note: the photo above is mine, and the... Read more →


For a few years, I shared lots of soup recipes on my second blog, called Soup Chick. (Although I stopped publishing recipes there in 2014, you can still access those recipes online.) Many of those soups never found their way here, to The Perfect Pantry, and I pretty much forgot about most of them. One day, Susan, a devoted reader of both blogs, reminded me of all the good slurpiness on the Soup Chick site, and she suggested I bring some of it here to share with you. This chowder, thick and oh-so-spicy, is one of my favorites. The smoky heat comes from chipotle peppers tempered a bit by the cream. If hot and spicy isn't the way you roll, you can cut the amount... Read more →


First published in 2012, this updated collection of great asparagus recipes now includes recipes from the past four years that are more than worthy of a place on any "best of" list. Once upon a time, I had a friend named Mary who ate only the tips of asparagus. I've always been more of a stem gal, so we were the perfect dinner companions. I thought our friendship might last forever, but as things turned out, asparagus preferences weren't enough to keep us together. Just as well, actually, as I've come to love every bit of the asparagus, and now I'd be reluctant to behead all of my spears for the sake of friendship. Asparagus season here in New England lasts for only six or... Read more →